David Lavery Wrote More Than Just a Thesis

lydia

Inspiration. A line by Lydia (Cynthia Lamontagne) in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Checkpoint” (January 23, 2001), inspired the title of an essay by Buffy scholar, David Lavery. Picture: 20th Television; Buffyverse Wiki.

In 2004, Slayage, a journal dedicated to studies of the works of Joss Whedon (but mainly Buffy the Vampire Slayer), published an essay by David Lavery called “‘I Wrote My Thesis on You’: Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult.”

I’ve mentioned the essay a few times over the years. I briefly discussed it on my blog, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist, in 2010:

Even though I taped most of its episode on VHS (remember video cassettes, kids?), I was never really a huge Buffy fan. I just used it for my vampire fix.

Nonetheless, it’s impressive to see what an incredible body of academia it’s generated.

David Lavery’s ” ‘I Wrote My Thesis on You!’: Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult” for Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 13-14 (October 2004), managed to isolate fifty “disciplines, methods, and/or approaches” in the field.

Imagine how this could be applied to vampirology itself. The mind boggles.

Shortly after, I mentioned it again in a guest post for VampChix, a vampire book review blog:

Vampirology is a much more complex field than you’d probably think. There’s a variety of perspectives and disciplines under this umbrella heading. In one of my blog entries , I mentioned that David Lavery wrote a paper on one of its sub-branches, Buffy Studies, and managed to isolate fifty “disciplines, methods, and/or approaches.” Can you imagine how many more exist in vampirology itself?

I mentioned it again during a review of a review (not as complicated as it sounds) of Mark Collins Jenkins’ Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend (2010):

The beauty of vampire study, is that they’re so damn varied. As I’ve previously pointed out (byway of David Lavery) Buffy Studies, alone, has about fifty “disciplines, methods, and/or approaches”. That’s right: fifty. I can never get over that figure.

I still can’t. It’s amazing. And I didn’t let it drop there. I raised it during an interview with my colleague, Erin Chapman:

Vampirology’s a multidisciplinary field of study, which basically means that any particular expertise can be used to cover the subject. Take Barber, for instance. He viewed the vampire through the lens of forensic pathology. Then you’ve got something like Buffy Studies, which has an incredible body of scholarship behind it. David Lavery traced 50 disciplines in his article, ““I wrote my thesis on you!”: Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult” and vampirology’s one of them. If a field dedicated to a TV show has that many disciplines, imagine how many more vampire studies—vampirology—has.

Lavery’s essay (“his paean to Buffy Studies”) came up during my rebuttal to a vampire wannabe’s poll:

As I said before, I’m not in the groups to study the people in it; my observations on their behaviour are byproducts of my involvement in the communities in the first place. Consider the “fan-scholars” David Lavery celebrates in his paean to Buffy Studies—that’s me, but for vampires; it just happens that the thing I enjoy about vampires is historical representations, folklore and myth-busting.

As you can see, it really resonated with me. But until recently, I had no idea Lavery wrote a sequel.

At “Much Ado About Whedon,” the 6th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses, held at California State University-Sacramento (June 19–22, 2014) Lavery reassessed Buffy studies to mark the tenth anniversary of his essay.

His paper, “‘I Wrote My Thesis on You’ 2, the Reckoning: Reflections on the Birth, Growth, and Nature of Whedon Studies,” was the final one presented at the conference. As far as I know, it’s never been published. In terms of content, I can only go on what its proposal says: “my talk will offer a humorous but critical look back from one of Whedon Studies’ founders at the history of our sometimes undisciplined discipline”.

David Lavery passed away on August 30, 2016, leaving behind an incredible body of scholarship dedicated to various pop culture franchises including The X-Files, The Sopranos, Doctor Who, and, of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His colleague, Rhonda V. Wilcox, with who he co-founded Slayage and the Whedon Studies Association, wrote:

His edited collection on Twin Peaks, titled Full of Secrets (Wayne State UP, 1995) is considered by many to be a watershed in television studies—a serious aesthetic appreciation, not simply an analysis of mechanics or of social implications.

And he left a pretty big impression on me, too.

Notes

  1. an essay by David Lavery: David Lavery, “‘I Wrote My Thesis on You!’: Buffy Studies as an Academic Cult,” Slayage 4, no. 1–2 [13–14] (October 2004): n. pag., accessed February 8, 2017, http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/lavery_slayage_4.1-2.pdf.
  2. “Even though I taped most of its episode on VHS”: Anthony Hogg, “Buffy Disciplines,” Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist (blog), January 20, 2010, accessed February 7, 2017, http://doaav.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/buffy-disciplines.hOctobetml. archive.is link: https://archive.is/ApzeJ.
  3. “Vampirology is a much more complex field than you’d probably think”: Anthony Hogg, “So You Want to Be a Vampirologist,” VampChix (blog), February 17, 2010, accessed February 7, 2017, http://vampchix.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/so-you-want-to-be-vampirologist.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/bEEzl.
  4. “The beauty of vampire study”: Anthony Hogg, “Review Reviewed,” Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist (blog), May 14, 2010, accessed February 7, 2017, http://doaav.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/review-reviewed.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/9HOlA.
  5. “Vampirology’s a multidisciplinary field of study”: Anthony Hogg, “Interview with the Vampirologist,” interview by Erin Chapman, Vamped, August 17, 2014, accessed February 7, 2017, http://vamped.org/2014/08/17/interview-with-the-vampirologist/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/ZLV2P.
  6. “As I said before, I’m not in the groups to study the people in it”: Anthony Hogg, “A Vampirologist Responds to the Vampyre Academy’s ‘Vampirology Poll’,” Vamped, August 5, 2015, accessed February 7, 2017, http://vamped.org/2015/08/05/4943/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/rXyOE.
  7. Lavery presented a paper: “Schedule in Detail,” The Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses, updated June 19, 2014, accessed Feburary 7, 2017, http://scw6.whedonstudies.tv/schedule-in-detail.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/FR4qm.
  8. “my talk will offer a humorous but critical look”: David Lavery, “‘I Wrote My Thesis on You’ 2, the Reckoning: Reflections on the Birth, Growth, and Nature of Whedon Studies,” proposal, The Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses, updated June 19, 2014, accessed Feburary 7, 2017, accessed February 7, 2017, http://scw6.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/lavery_scw6_proposal.pdf.
  9. an incredible body of scholarship: “Collected Works of David Lavery: Television,” David Lavery, n.d., accessed February 8, 2017, http://davidlavery.net/Collected_Works/Television.htm. archive.is link: https://archive.is/MJf2F. See also http://davidlavery.net/Collected_Works/ [archive.is link: https://archive.is/VOt4y].
  10. “His edited collection on Twin Peaks“: Rhonda V. Wilcox, “David Lavery, 1949-2016,” Slayage 14, no. 2 [44] (Summer 2016): n. page, accessed February 8, 2017, http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/david_lavery_1949-2016_slayage_14.2.pdf.
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